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Requiring broadband customers to pay a £2 per lunch levy could safeguard the future of the flagging UK newspaper industry, it has been claimed.

David Leigh, Executive Editor of Investigations at the Guardian, warned that internet news risks "killing off quality newspapers".

But a small charge on top of consumers' standard broadband bill could help sustain journalism - something he describes as "a fundamental plank of democracy".

"There are almost 20 million UK households that are paying upwards of £15 a month for a good broadband connection, plus another five million mobile internet subscriptions," Mr Leigh stated.

"People willingly pay this money to a handful of telecommunications companies, but pay nothing for the news content they receive as a result."

He claimed that UK broadband providers could collect the levy from their customers, and raise more than £500 million annually for the newspaper industry.

"It could be collected by a freestanding agency, on the lines of the BBC licence fee, and redistributed automatically to news providers according to their share of UK online readership," Mr Leigh added.

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